To my shock and utmost honor, this poem was used for the lyrics to a commissioned work for the Denver Women’s Chorus in the winter concert “Ocean of Voices” January 2017. What an amazing thing it is to hear one’s words become music and to have a group of women you love sing it for you. Even recalling it brings tears to my eyes. It was thrilling, wonderful and the composer, Christine Wittig Thomas, did an amazing job capturing the feel of Lake Superior in music. Gichigami is the Ojibwa name for Lake Superior and means “big water”.
I don’t know how long I have been here.
My brothers and I were born from ice and land.
I am called Gichigami, “big water”.
Emotions play across my surface,
Where they are easily seen.
It’s down in the depths where
My spirit is still and quiet.
The humans who have known me longest
Know how to read my moods.
I like them.
We take care of each other.
I enjoy it when we play together;
On the beaches or sailing across my surface.
I love to crash on the rocks and throw
Myself up into the air.
When I am angry however,
Most know to stay away from me.
Those who do not
Now sleep in my cold depths.
I am part of the cycle of life here.
The life in and around me
Relies on each other to survive.
We cannot exist without each other.
I have taken life.
I have also given life.
When you listen with your heart
To my watery voice,
You will understand that you
Are part of the cycle.
We are related.
We are friends.